HAF 2014 Gala Recap!

The HAF 2014 Fundraising Gala was a huge success! We had such an amazing time at MIST this year and many thanks to them for helping us to make the gala happen. We were graciously featured in both The Morningsider and Meet Me Uptown. In addition to their recaps, we thought it would be nice to share ours here on the blog.

Reception, Silent Auction & Performances

Nearly a hundred attendees made it out to the gala this year! In addition to HAF artists, family and friends, attendees included New York Council woman Inez Dickens, former Councilman Robert Jackson, Diane Collier from Community Board 11, Harlem Arts Alliance Chair Voza Rivers, and art consultant Baraka Sele.

Furthermore, our Silent Auction got a lot of love, we went photo booth crazy thanks to the beautiful folks at WhosEvent, we danced A LOT, and we previewed amazing performances by Kinan Azmeh, Zest Collective, and Kennedy.

Here are some of the night’s highlights:

haf gala instagram shots

(Instagram: @HarlemArtsFest / #HAFGala)

Kinan Azmeh Duo (top left); Kennedy feat. Ondrej Pivic (top right); Zest Collective dancer (bottom) Credit: Waseem Ghattas

New this year was our presentation of the inaugural Lynnette Velasco Community Impact Award sculpted by HAF 2012 artist Bryce Zachary.  Linda Walton and Fred Ho were honored for their indelible influence on the arts and the Harlem community.


Credit: Leah Diaz
Artist: Bryce Zachary

Linda Walton: The Community Builder

Linda Walton’s fingerprints are all over the Harlem arts scene. A long-time Harlem resident, she is currently the Executive Director of Harlem Arts Alliance. Through her leadership, HAA thrives in its dedication to assist over 1,000 visual and performance artists, art lovers, businesses and organizations in Harlem and throughout New York City.

Linda Walton accepts the Lynnette Velasco Community Impact Award
Credit: Waseem Ghattas

Walton’s significant contributions include fundraising for yearly grants like Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone, a federal initiative that works to revitalize the communities of Upper Manhattan. She manages re-granting programs such as Urban Artists Initiative and Council member Inez Dickens’ Cultural Collaborative to award over $100,000 to artists and arts organizations. The annual signature showcase series and festival Artz, Rootz and Rhythm was co-developed by Walton and presents critically acclaimed indoor and outdoor events to venues all over Harlem.

Walton is also the former Vice President of Programming for Jazzmobile, the first non profit arts and cultural organization created for Jazz in the United States. Jazzmobile provides year round performances and programs to Harlem and greater New York City.

An indomitable force within the Harlem community, Walton is irreplaceable.

Fred Ho: The Iconoclastic Activist Musician

Fred Ho picked up the baritone saxophone when he was fourteen. It was a pivotal moment during his adolescence when he was struggling to make sense of his Chinese American identity. Vulnerable to racial discrimination from his classmates, Ho grew up trying to assimilate as a means to gain acceptance from his white peers.

However, he began to confront his conformity to white American norms as the social revolutions of the 1960s, in particular the Black Power Movement, gained momentum and greatly impacted his consciousness. His emotional and creative growth led him to turn his feelings of frustration, anger and self-hate into strength. His experiences became a motivating force that propelled him toward social activism. By sixteen, Ho’s life had transformed.

His devotion to political activism and his love for composing music would blend to become the conduit through which Ho has challenged the status quo. Inspired by Asian and African musics and traditions, he refers to a lot of his work as “Afro-Asian Futurism.”

Reimagining a framework for American identity based on multiculturalism and anti-oppression, Ho’s thirty-plus year career as a musician, composer and writer has produced an iconoclastic body of work of Hulk status and has helped to solidify Asian American music.

Cover art for Fred Ho’s album “Celestial Green Monster” and book “Wicked Theory, Naked Practice”
Credit: Robert Adam Mayer
Courtesy: Fred Ho

On the cover of his album, Celestial Green Monster, Ho imagines himself as an Incredible Hulk-like figure. Donned in full body green paint, naked with his baritone sax between his legs and a boot adorned with a black panther on his right foot, Ho epitomizes the Hulk metaphor with his own signature.

In an interview last month with Kat Chow of NPR’s Code Switch, Ho discusses his favorite superhero and the vision for his work saying, “You push the Hulk too far, you know, the Hulk would become this raging behemoth that would just smash everything this way, and that’s how I saw myself fighting the system.”

With 12 operas, several albums and published books in his repertoire, Ho is probably best known for creating his own genre of opera, in Journey Beyond The West. The three-part opera integrates movement from martial arts, imaginative characters, satire and re-worked legend and compels a change in dialogue about music and the role of the political within.

Ho shares with Chow that the metaphor for his life is one of subversive transformation, “The metaphor for my life is to turn pain into power, is never to become a victim. Become a revolutionary.”

Diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2006, the revolutionary artist is dying. At 56 years old, he laments on the friendships he will lose when he transitions, yet the devastation of this impending loss has not made a victim of Ho.

Joseph Yoon, Ho’s manager and close friend perhaps expresses it best, “This man is a survivor. He is forever.”

With the gala complete, we’re shifting gears in preparation for the festival this June 28 – 29th in Marcus Garvey Park. Stay tuned as we begin sharing features on the 2014 HAF artist line-up and much more!

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